Sunday, April 30, 2006
# Posted 10:37 PM by Ariel David Adesnik
I think Barack Obama put it very, very well in his brief address to the thousands of protesters assembled on the Mall. He said that often in world affairs, it is very hard to know which side stands for the good and which side against it. But on the subject of Darfur, there is complete moral clarity. Genocide is evil and we must put an end to it.
Perhaps more surprisingly, Al Sharpton delivered an address with whose substance I fully agreed. His message we simple. We must stop the slaughter of innocents. Truly, Darfur is a cause that brings out the best in everybody.
In the corner of the rally where I stood, near the front of the crowd but well to the left of the main stage, I found myself in a sea of yamulkes and other Jewish paraphrenalia. An array of t-shirts, signs and balloons announced the presence of USY (United Synagogue Youth), Hillel (the Jewish student organization), and various individual synagogues from across the northeast.
As a Jew, I was very proud to see that my people truly understand the meaning of "Never Again". The victims in Darfur are black and Muslim, but the principle is the same. (Certain professors might also take note that American Jews have a much broader and principled agenda than they are sometimes given credit for.)
In hindsight, I sort of wish that I had circulated a bit more so that I might've had a chance to interact with some of the Christian and Muslim groups at the protest. According to the WaPo, the crowd was extraordinarily diverse:
They wore skullcaps, turbans, headscarves, yarmulkes, baseball hats and bandanas. There were pastors, rabbis, imams, youths from churches and youths from synagogues. They cried out phrases in Arabic and held signs in Hebrew. But on this day, they said, they didn't come out as Jews or Muslims, Christians or Sikhs, Republicans or Democrats.Actually, this supposed demand wasn't terribly explicit. Most speakers called on the Bush administration to do more, but there was really no conensus on what 'more' consists of. Some mentioned sanctions. Some mentioned peacekeepers. Most speakers exercised the safer option of being very angry but recommending nothing specific.
In fact, it would be fairly easy to criticize just about everyone at the rally for not having the slightest idea how to solve a problem we all agree is very dangerous. No one really seemed to have much confidence that sanctions would work or that effective peacekeepers would ever be sent. As Sen. Obama pointed out, we should demand more of the President, but he has done far more than the Europeans.
Naturally, no one said a word about an invasion (although I attempted to provide a subtle hint.) The sign I held above my head had two messages, one on either side: "ACT NOW" and "WE DEMAND ACTION". If you look up "action" in my thesaurus, the first entry you will find is "the US Marines".
Of course, we can't go it alone with our military so preoccupied and public opinion the way it is. But how about 1,000 soldiers from every member of NATO and from other US allies such as Japan, Australia and India? I guess that would never happen without a Security Council resolution, which is pretty much a lost cause.
Frankly, I'm not sure whether to condemn the President for not doing more or to accept that he can't do the impossible. Yes, it would nice for the Europeans -- the French even! -- to take the lead. But we learned from Bosnia and Kosovo that humanitarian intervention demands American leadership.
In its Call to Action, the Save Darfur Coalition recommends five things: Encouragement of others to join the movement, government-sponsored aid to Darfur, support for non-govenrmental relief agencies, support for rebuilding Darfur, and a UN investigation of war crimes.
That last demand is the most tragic of all. Implicitly, it acknowledges the abject failure of us all to do anything but watch the slaughter and hope that someday, when it ends, we can find someone to hold responsible. (28) opinions -- Add your opinion
How much do you think the protestors are interested in doing something in Darfur, vs having a platform to attack George Bush? Obama doesn't see moral clarity in opposing murderers in Iraq. Sharpton doesn't want to stop the slaughter of innocents there.
The ambiguity of calling for Bush do do 'more' - without saying what that is - leaves them free to continue to oppose Bush no matter wht he does in the future.
What rules of engagement do these charming people propose for 'do more'?
If it doesn't include killing Janjaweed and, quelle horreur, occasionally making a mistake and hurting an 'innocent'...because in the real world mistakes are always made.............. forget it.
Otherwise it's simply an effort to divert/dilute the needed effort in the middle east, to the definitely impossible (by rule) Darfur.
I'll be glad to send George Clooney and all the others, armed exactly as they would allow our troops to operate, for an all expense paid 'do more' trip.
My proposal: "Weaponshops of Isher",
by right, give all the refugees a decent rifle and 20 rounds of ammunition.
Well, that's why I didn't go to the rally. I know a lot of the people involved with it here in NYC, and it seemed like "we're social activists, and what we know how to do is hold rallies, so let's hold a rally."
I went to several rallies and fundraisers here: cards and petitions to send to Pres. Bush, but not to Kofi Annan. Rallies in Central Park but not in front of the Sudanese embassy or the UN. (There were a few rallies in front of the UN organized by iAbolish, and there is some overlap, but Charles Jacobs isn't PC enough for some folks.)
It seemed like more of a feel-good exercise than a focused campaign. The senators getting arrested in front of the Sudanese Embassy - that's more like it! At least they are starting to embarrass the right people. But I can't take a movement seriously that relies on the UN doing something.
A friend thinks we should fund a private militia for the rebel groups, which would probably be more useful than getting entangled in the UN bureaucracy. Private enterprise!
This isn't bad, in that it holds others besides the US to account:
"the Reform Jewish Movement is announcing today a campaign (endorsed by the National Council of Churches) that will ask America’s faith communities to join together to visit every embassy and consulate of the NATO and African Union nations, Russia, and China by June 2nd, before the Jewish holiday of Shavuot. Those visits will be taking place during the counting of the Omer, in which we move from the freedom given us at Passover to the responsibility that came with accepting God’s laws at Sinai. We will ask for urgent action from their governments to stop the genocide and support UN resolutions to create a robust, well-equipped, and effective peace-keeping force with a clear mandate to protect innocent civilian life. And we call on our co-religionists across the globe to publicly and forcefully demand such action from their own governments."
But it's still not as useful as buying some mercenaries for them.
I caught the end of this rally in DC on CSPAN today. George Clooney got up to speak, and everyone cheered wildly. The Assistant Secretary of State for Africa got up, said what the Bush admin. is doing and the people started chanting "We Want More."
Then a representative from the Southern Baptist Conference got up there to speak, and my goodness, there was silence. I don't think I could have found someone who sounded like he cared more about helping people in Darfur than this guy did but the best he got was polite applause. Of course, it could be that he mentioned "God." (The horror!) More likely, however, it was because he was the one being the most realistic about our options. He said the AU has to get serious, and if they don't do it then the UN has to get serious. And if the UN doesn't, NATO has to get serious. And if NATO doesn't, the burden falls on our shoulders. That raised all sorts of uncomfortable possibilities, including unilateralism!! and possibly even regime change!! (GASP!!)
Peace plans don't work. The government goes right back to sponsoring militias to kill people there, or some other region of the country. We learned after Bosnia, if you want to end the problem the only way to do it is to get rid of the government (or set up a protected zone like we did with Kurdistan).
This is not to detract from anyone else who was there to speak, or a lot of the people such as yourself who showed up (if I were in DC, I would have gone) but it's one thing to wear a wristband, hold up a poster and chant about how we want something done. It's another to actually realize what our options are, and very few of those options are going to make the sort of people who generally come to these rallies anything but uncomfortable.
That comment about the poster was not directed towards you by the way. I had missed that part in your post. "Action" in my book also involves the US Marines.
i passed by the san francisco gathering at crissy field. what a bunch of phonies. where were these pathetic losers 4/5 years ago when serious people stated, in no uncertain terms, that the sudanese government should rounded up and executed for crimes against humanity. where were they when bush called it genocide. they argued then that bush had no right to call it genocide and the UN appointed sudan to it human rights chair. i posted then that the vultures would show up and demand action when everybody was dead. ok, i was wrong--there's a few still living. most of these people should be taken out and horse whipped. being church goers doesn't excuse being morons when it leads to millions dead. and here's the hard cold reality--they don't give a s**t about darfur they just want the t-shirt. as they said on the south park episode--they go around smelling their own farts.
Okay, I just vented.
Rally for Darfur at the UN, Sept. 2004.
Smaller, same mentality. Watch Gloria Steinem be stupid.
Sir- You got it right regarding darfur. sound and noise but no one i repeat no one expects any concrete actions to stop whats b een going on now for many many months. only those that live in ivory towers and there are many would expect the european powers to do anythings but talk, talk talk. they have no power to projcet they are bestotted with soft power concepts because thats all they have and the world knows it and ignores them but of course pays them lip service because of the aid money they get. what hypocricy.the usa cannot be the policeman or the treasurer for the world. anyway so now you feel better having been part of the feel good movements that dont accomplish much of anthing
. Sure im sorry for whats gong on in darfur but it should have been taken care years ago by the feckless europeans and they just did their uusal thing of sending out the hot air.. thanks for the opportunity to vent.
i was there, at the DC rally and I want to correct some things.
1. There were people from all across the spectrum. Yes there were some anti-war types. There was also a group down from Yeshiva University in NY. As David says, there were Jews, esp young people, from every denomination, every youth group. But this wasnt about Iraq, it was about Darfur
2. Of course we couldnt be specific about actions. The situation is too fluid = we dont now what the results of the negotians in Abuja will be, we dont know exactly whats happening in secret at the UN. We arent playing Secretary of State - we're asking for results, and leaving it up to the pros to figure out the hows.
3. I applauded Land, as did most of those around me. The crowd was not as enthusiastic for him, perhaps, but we certainly welcomed his support. It would have been could if more members of his group had attended. Perhaps next time they will.
4. While there was much calling on Bush to do more, there was also recognition that hes at least done something. And there WERE signs calling Annan to do more, there were questions about why Europe hasnt even recognized this as genocide, and there was from several speakers (and supported by the crowd) a sense of exasperation with Russia and China. There were also members of Falun Gong, handing out literature about the Chinese govt.
This is a difficult problem, a "problem from hell". And maybe when it comes to action it will be hard to keep our entire coalition together. My fear is that we will never get the chance to see, and hundreds of thousands more Darfuris will be murdered.
I didn't take notes, but didn't the impassioned Bosnian from San Francisco, and several others point out that military force is necessary to stop the thugs? As I recall, only the inane Russell Simmons (how did such a dimwit find success in business?) advocated against action. Didn't Clooney Sr. point out that all the aid in the world is no good if the villagers of Darfur are all dead? I took that to be a call for protecting their lives with force. Wystan.
If you're not willing to call for war, forget it.
Nothing else will work.
Maybe somebody remembers Srebrenica?
It means more than soldiers standing around watching. It means killing the bad guys until the survivors quit.
It means regime change, either by suggested retirement with villas in Monaco (the trip to which encounters some delays in a US federal court), or by high explosives.
It means UAVs stooging around the skies in Sudan looking for military or janjaweed forces and dropping the occasional bolt of lightning on them.
If you won't call for this, don't bother pretending you actually care.
Only a brief comment now, more later. First of all, thank you all for weighing on this subject.
In spite of us all being unclear about what comes next, I believe that such rallies help change the way America thinks about a very important issue, which may ultimately lead to more effective action.
Second, I would emphatically say that this was not the usual anti-war/anti-Bush crowd by any means. I saw absolutely none of the Chomskyite signs and pamphlets that usually clutter such events. This really was about Darfur and about America's conscience.
Paul Simon famously said that if 100 people in every congressional district had sent cards to their congressmen about Rwanda in 1994, the US would have taken action.
From all I know, the best way we can get the Congress and the President to take action is to write, and to rally.
Yeah, I support the Reform movements idea of going around to each embassy. But we arent the State Department. And we have a lot more credibility going to those embassies, if we are also pressing our own govt to act.
So i think rallies and post cards are the necessary but not sufficient steps, that make a fuller and more pointed political agenda possible.
And for those of us who are religiously oriented Jews, if we're going to rally and write, naturally we should study also. Thats what sets us apart from a secular lobby.
And I dont see whats wrong with people feeling good about what they are doing. Do you really think we'd accomplish much by trying to make people feel BAD about lobbying for change?
well said indeed. Endlessly spectulating about the interior motivations of protesters is unproductive and distracting.
What's important is that they are raising their voice and trying to create some public pressure. Besides, very few people who have campaigned for good causes have not been at least partly motivated to feel better about themselves.
The desire to feel like a more worthy human being by contributing to a charitable cause is quite respectable.
"And I don't see whats wrong with people feeling good about what they are doing. Do you really think we'd accomplish much by trying to make people feel BAD about lobbying for change?"
the reason the majority of the people are NOT allowed to feel good about their lobbying is because they are not prepared to do or support what needs to be done to make changes. think rwanda, zimbabwe, darfur ad nauseam. the cold reality is that to make the necessary changes that you are lobbying for, you have to support regime change and killing 10,000's of evil people. stop pretending. not a single speaker i heard mentioned what it would take. however, they know what it takes to sell t-shirts.
that's why, for the most part, the protesters are all a bunch of phonies. nary a word was directed at the cause of the problem--the UN, arab states, radical islam, china, france etc. why weren't the rallies held in front of the UN building and assorted embassies with some signs thanking Bush for having called it genocide. yesterday, the majority were previously against going into afghanistan, 99% were against iraq, 99% will do nothing to stop iran from getting nukes (they will lobby, though) but they will scream bloody murder if/when one goes off in israel. had bush gone into darfur three years ago they would be screaming "no blood for oil" and ranting about "not in our name" saying we are killing innocence civilians. everything being said about iraq would be said about sudan. so predictable.
to the people who did show up yesterday at least they left home the "save tibet" placards.....
"the cold reality is that to make the necessary changes that you are lobbying for, you have to support regime change"
Why exactly do you have to support regime change? When we stopped ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, the Serbian regime was still in power in Belgrade - the regime didnt fall till months later, and did so without a single NATO soldier in Belgrade. I dont understand why some people keep saying you cant stop the genocide without taking out the regime. It just doesnt follow.
"the UN, arab states, radical islam, china, france etc. why weren't the rallies held in front of the UN building and assorted embassies with some signs thanking Bush for having called it genocide. yesterday, the majority were previously against going into afghanistan, 99% were against iraq,"
Were you actually at a rally? at the one in DC the arab league, the Russians and Chinese, etc were all mentioned. And I doubt that even 10% of the crowd had been against the war in Afganistan. If the Chomsky folks or the folks from ANSWER had been there, they wouldnt have been treated all that kindly - at least not by most. I dont think you quite understand who made up this crowd.
You're right about Kossovo, although a lot of people had to be killed on the way to that happy result. But things aren't all that hot in Kossovo now, are they? In fact, the ethnic cleansing continues.
But what if we start out on this path based on your assurance that regime change won't be necessary and....nothing is happening and it looks as if regime change really is necessary?
Now what? Quit?
Let's modify this: Maybe regime change won't be necessary, but it it is, you'll support it.
i was at the one in san francisco.
without regime change the murderers go free to continue at a different date. as for kosovo there was regime change, brought about by two differnt armies fighting the serbs-- croatians and slovenians on different occasions. you can do a google search for the carnage totals. clinton, without UN approval, at the begging of the french, dropped bombs. his supposed two year engagement is now going on ten with nato troops on the ground. when/if they leave the merry go round starts anew. there is no end to the show trials at the hague.
riddle me this: why your rightful concern for darfur with its 100,000's of dead and dying in a cruel civil war with calls for intervention yet nary a peep from the majority with saddam and his evil progeny killing upwards of 150,000 per year through torture and ethnic cleansing. on one hand intervention on the other "who are we to be the world's policeman". are iraqis worth less than the sudanese? if saddam wasn't a threat to the US certainly sudan can't be. there are no potential wmd's sudan. they never used chemical weapons. as someone who supports both interventions, and hopefully more to come, perhaps you can understand my distemper with what i see as situational ethics run amok.
where were the howls of injustice toward the UN for its food for oil scandal. where are the marches denouncing russia, china and france, etc for propping up a "murder incorporated" in iraq and now a thugocracy in iran. instead arafat sleeps in the lincoln bedroom.......so forgive me, if as someone else said, i felt like i needed a shower after yesterday.
" why your rightful concern for darfur with its 100,000's of dead and dying in a cruel civil war with calls for intervention yet nary a peep from the majority with saddam and his evil progeny killing upwards of 150,000 per year through torture and ethnic cleansing. on one hand intervention on the other "who are we to be the world's policeman". "
1. I supported operation Iraqi Freedom. I didnt go around asking the folks at the rally if they had done so.
2. I can understand the distinction, which was made at the time of the Iraq war, by people who had supported the intervention in Kosovo, but not in Iraq. The distinction was timing. The principle that was asserted in 1999 re Kosovo was the right to stop an ongoing genocide/ethnic cleansing. The genocide in Iraq took place in 1988, when we for realpolitik reasons were uninterested in overthrowing Saddam. Arguably the crackdown on the Shiites in 1991 was genocidal - but that too was passed. While Saddam was totalitarian in 2002, there was no ongoing genocide in Iraq at that time. (i wont quibble abou the numbers - this isnt my POV, just explaining that of some other people)
Nonetheless I personally beleive that Saddams internal dictatorship was good reason to overthrow him. I think the admin made a tremendous mistake in giving much greater emphasis to WMD's. But the Save Darfur coalition is just that - a coalition. We cant afford to look for people who agree with us on every issues, when millions of lives are in danger.
"without regime change the murderers go free to continue at a different date."
I doubt they will want to play again, having lost once.
" as for kosovo there was regime change, brought about by two differnt armies fighting the serbs-- croatians and slovenians on different occasions."
no. The regime survived the loss to those two republics. It was brought down by the Serbian people, in the aftermath of the Kosovo war.
"clinton, without UN approval, at the begging of the french, dropped bombs."
you really have no idea what youre talking about, do you? Blair begged Clinton on - the French were reluctant, and had to be dragged in.
" his supposed two year engagement is now going on ten with nato troops on the ground."
With no US fatalities. Lots of peace keeping ops go on for years. Take a look at Cyprus.
" when/if they leave the merry go round starts anew."
We shall see, but I dont think so.
" there is no end to the show trials at the hague."
Show trials? Well now we know where youre coming from.
"ask the people? look who the speakers were. "
The speakers included reprentative Frank Wolfe, Republican of Virginia, and Rev Land of the National Association of Evangelicals.
The speakers were a diverse group.
I was at the rally, and I can testify that this was NOT the usual anti-Iraq war crowd. If it had been I certainly would not have gone. ANSWER was nowhere to be seen, thank God! At least in the part of the crowd I was in, there were many Jews from different groups, ranging from local synagogues, youth groups, the Reform movement, Yeshiva University, etc. I don't imagine many YU students go to ralllies organized by the anti-semitic ANSWER. One thing that struck me was how broad a coalition was represented by the speakers - from Al Sharpton (whom I personally dislike) to Richard Land of the National Association of Evangelicals, whom I cheered loudly. I think perhaps that was one reason there were not a lot of concrete proposals - the organizers were trying to present a united front. This was not a group of "phonies," despite what one poster keeps saying.
this had nothing to do with ANSWER your straw dog. these comments had to to do with the organizers and most of the speakers as i previously stated.
....that's why, for the most part, the protesters are all a bunch of phonies. nary a word was directed at the cause of the problem--the UN, arab states, radical islam, china, france etc. why weren't the rallies held in front of the UN building and assorted embassies with some signs thanking Bush for having called it genocide. yesterday, the majority were previously against going into afghanistan, 99% were against iraq, 99% will do nothing to stop iran from getting nukes (they will lobby, though) but they will scream bloody murder if/when one goes off in israel. had bush gone into darfur three years ago they would be screaming "no blood for oil" and ranting about "not in our name" saying we are killing innocence civilians. everything being said about iraq would be said about sudan. so predictable.
i continue to demand, as i have since 2001, that europe–not the US–field an army and invade sudan with the UN. fat chance. let them spend lives and treasury, instead of telling us how hateful we are.
the prediction i made then still stands–the crisis in the sudan will end when everyone is dead. we are close. it’s the UN way. wait, wait a moment. this just in. not satisfied they are now going into chad! time for some new t-shirts!
out of iraq into darfur said it all!
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